Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Weekly Journals

I've thought about using some courses from Connect the Thoughts next year, but in looking over the curriculum I wasn't sure how it would work for my girls. It can be hard to get a good feel for something from a few pages of online samples. I joined the Yahoo group and was pleasantly surprised to find that my questions about the curriculum were answered by the author. I also scoured various online message boards for reviews, and found that the people that have used it have generally positive things to say.

Hmmm. Very interesting. But not interesting enough to make me buy a course simply to 'give it a try.' I wasn't ready to commit to such a big change. Then something wonderful happened - a perfect cosmic coincidence. The author decided to provide one of his courses for free. (You can check it out here.) The course title is Weekly Journal: Where Next Week Lives and it's a bit of everything all rolled into one. Some current events, some history, some music, art, etc., etc., etc. Basically the author has picked key people/events that occurred "on this day" in history, provided some text, some links to computer sites, etc., and asked for written responses. There are also private entries asking the student to reflect on personal thoughts, wishes, questions, etc. Because it follows the same basic format of all of the CTT courses, it gives a good idea of what to expect from other topics (like World History or Science).

I thought my children would absolutely balk at the idea of writing in their journals every day. We currently do a weekly journal every Friday, and sometimes they whine about that. So I decided to present it to my oldest daughter and tell her it was a trial for next year (she has been very involved in the decision-making process for next year's curriculum choices). But as soon as the 2nd and 3rd sisters saw the journal, they were interested. I read them the beginning pages and they wanted to try to (the course has a lower level available here). I was hesitant to actually print it out and give it to them, but I have to admit that they are thoroughly enjoying the course! I figured that my six-year-old would need lots of help, but that hasn't been true. She does need help looking up locations in an atlas, but for the most part she is capable of going through and writing her responses on her own. The youngest doesn't do the course, but has learned from osmosis when the others read aloud the text portions and their findings from internet searches. And I've been interested in the topics as well. It's been fun to learn "random" bits of history.

I'm not making any promises that the novelty won't wear off, but if you're looking for a change or for something academic to take along on a vacation, break, etc., this is definitely worth looking into - especially given the fact that the price (free) is right!

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